A/N: The characters aren’t mine, though I’m totally taking liberties with some back story here. But it occurred to me we never know much about Joyce. I should warn you that this is kinda depressing.
In the years since her wedding, Joyce had often thought of the day with amusement. It had all been so perfect. Both families were long friends and the joining of the youngest branches had been inevitable. There had not been a groom’s side and bride’s side of the church. Rather, they were all family by blood or bond already. Friends sat where they choose at the reception as well, with no one meeting anyone they didn’t already know. Some did not get along, and some would say they despised one another for some argument or some slight or some past-owed debt, but it was the kind of despised that occurs in families. The kind where people say, “Oh look. Beth and James are at it again! Someone really aught to cut her off from the bar before she makes a fool of herself again. You do remember Uncle Kirklin’s funeral don’t you?”
And her childhood before that, living as a princess in a large house. Large enough to get lost in. Large enough to play by herself for hours without interrupt of another soul – family, friend, or servant. She would spy on her father in his study, or if Hank came over with his mother after church on a Sunday, the two of them would sit up the stairs from the kitchen and try to guess by smell what Mrs. Jonson, the cook, was making for dinner.
And later, after she was married, with her beautiful baby girl in her arms as she spoke with Merideth, her own maid and cook. How they would joke over how dirty Hank’s shirts would get even though he sat in an office all day. Or later, about how good he was to put in so much overtime at the office so that little Buffy would be able to go to the best college.
But this time, as her youth flashed before her in a dream, she did not think of it the same way. She thought of the loneliness. Of the reason Hank was working late – both the real reason, his secretary, and the stated reason. Her daughter had been through so much, but all they’d wanted for her was to grow up and marry an educated man that would take good care of her.
Now Joyce was alone. She wondered how her family, that had once been so close could have abandoned her. It wasn’t just the divorce, she knew. It was also what they had viewed as Buffy’s reaction to it. They might be family, but a daughter in an asylum was just too much to cover-up. Best to just cut them out of the family. Joyce had often wondered in the last year what the family would have done if she called them up now and told them all the truth. That her daughter was not crazy. That she sometimes wished Buffy was. Surely that would have been a better life than this. Her little baby, off fighting honest-to-God demons.
Selfishly, she added to her little list of woes, “Buffy’s off fighting demons, and me alone where no one will find me for days.” She thought of the flowers she’d just received from the man who’d taken her out. She hadn’t dated much, but when an artist from the studio asked her to dinner … she spontaneously said yes. Their second date would be in a week’s time. Or never, as the case may be. He would probably not even know why she would never call him back as she promised. Such a shame. He was so nice to her.
Her life went on before her eyes like a carousel running wild, each spin moving backward or forward in time, between happy and sad and angry and so damn tired. But maybe she would get to see her mother again soon. She thought of the people she’d lost. The ones where good-intentioned friends say “You’ll see them again in heaven”. Maybe she would.
Funny after all this time, but her thoughts kept returning to Hank. They had fought, even as kids. Two high-spirited rich kids with the world at their feet. Her best friend, then her lover, her husband. But he’d gotten tired of the fighting. He had wanted her to change into a submissive little woman. She would not.
So maybe she would be able to rest now, but she didn’t want to. She wanted to live. They said she would get to live. The doctors – they said she had a second chance.
All this passed in the moment between the silent explosion of a tiny blood vessel in her brain and the sudden darkening of the world as she felt her soul slip from her body. She thought she saw her own body fall to the couch before the darkness absorbed everything and there was no more.
Then came the light.
A/N: Thank you for reading! I made the mistake of watching Little Women today and it made me all teary and BAM I’m writing something depressing. But ... at least it’s writing! I’m trying to get my muse back to work and she’s having a hard time. So please review. She can use a little encouragement. Thanks!